June 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

Momma says listen up, baby products retailer Graco shows

Retailer and manufacturer Graco Children’s Products shines a light on online moms, who turn out to be rather vocal Internet users. The retailer brought moms together in an effort to bolster brand awareness.

Moms make their voices heard. That`s what retailer and manufacturer Graco Children’s Products found out about its target audience when it decided to reach out to influential customers online.

In research gathered by its social media firm Converseon Inc., Graco found that 86% of moms go online regularly and 70% participate in online communities, and moms are 21% more likely than the general population to blog. What`s more, 60% of online conversation in social media among new moms carries with it a recommendation to buy, try or consider a product, Converseon says. Graco sells car seats, swings and other products online at GracoBaby.com.

"Moms turn to other moms for advice, support and community whether they are at home all day or juggling a career and family," said Stephanie Schwab, vice president at Converseon, at the fourth annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week. She spoke in a session titled "Consumers Raise Their Voices: Keeping Track of Your Brand Online." "It`s a vast online community-`blogger moms` are the new soccer moms."

Graco hired Converseon to mine social media-social networks, blogs, online forums and other venues, looking for references to the retailer and its products and to help identify influential online moms. The companies found an assortment of "blogger moms" and decided to bring them together to discuss motherhood and if Graco could be of any help in their blogging efforts. Graco even let the moms pick the theme of the meeting-a spa day with manicures and pedicures. The result was a group of influential bloggers who became much more aware of Graco and what it had to offer.

This illustrates Graco`s determination to join the online conversation about motherhood for the long term, not just jumping in and out when it sees a product mention, Schwab said. "In building a long-term relationship," she added, "you get a tremendous amount of feedback from opinionated and influential people who know the products you sell."

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